I’m passionate about teaching and preaching the Bible, and God has allowed me to do so for the better part of the last 20 years. I believe when it comes to communicating God’s Word, we have to take the posture of always seeking to improve. I want to be a better preacher and teacher, and I love helping others do the same.
With that in mind, I wanted to pass along five tips to help you be a better Bible communicator.
Tip 1: Start with the text.
Too often, preachers start with a topic, concept, or direction and only then do they look to the text to see how it supports where they want to go. The better practice is to start with Scripture and look for the themes and issues that flow out of God’s Word. THEN, build your sermon series or mid-week talk out of the truth you’ve found in the Bible. When we start with a topic or catchy sermon series title first then try to make the Bible fit it, we run the risk of misusing the text, making it say something it doesn’t to fit our preconceived themes.
Tip 2: Give the text its due.
There are for sure a variety of factors that lead us to skimp on the time we spend marinating over our selected passages. Life moves fast. We have demands that call us away from preparation. And maybe, just maybe, we don’t craft sermons where the Word is at the center. But the fact is, you’ll never regret spending more time diving deep into the Bible. As you prepare a sermon, make sure that your process is designed to allow you an abundance of time spent prayerfully reflecting and thoughtfully considering your text.
Tip 3: Hone in on one key truth.
One of the mistakes I made as a young communicator, especially when communicating with students, is trying to do too much with a text. It’s a challenge because Scripture is so rich! But a great way to preach for both clarity and transformation is to focus on the main theological truth the passage teaches. Make that truth the focus of your sermon. Sure, feel free to support the truth with other Scripture, build application off it, make illustrations . . . But do so based on the one, main truth of your passage.
Tip 4: Point everything back to Christ.
Every sermon we preach, no matter the text, should be a bridge to the Gospel. I have occasionally been in the room where a preacher gets to the end of a sermon and calls for an altar call, and I find myself asking, “What are we supposed to respond to? You haven’t preached the Gospel.” All preaching should point to the cross. Period.
Tip 5: Preach for a response.
Every sermon should lead to a response. Now, I don’t mean that you always have to have a traditional altar call, or “time of decision” in every sermon. What I mean by preaching for a response is presenting the truth of God’s Word in such a way that it asks something of your audience. It might ask them to change their values. It might ask them to change their behavior. It might ask them to consider how a concept reframes their worldview. Passages like 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Isaiah 55:10-11, Hebrews 4:12, and others, call us to present Scripture in a way that allows the Holy Spirit a ripe atmosphere to compel transformation.
For some of you, these thoughts will be a reminder to keep doing what you’re already doing. For others, there may be something here you’re not doing or haven’t done in a while. My prayer is that you’ll be reminded to make much of God’s Word as you prepare to lead people to know God more.